Briarwood takes third place at Big Orange Classic

Published 11:05 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2024

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HOOVER – The Briarwood Christian Lions earned a pair of dominant wins over the Escambia County Blue Devils and Andalusia Bulldogs to secure third place in the Black Bracket at Hoover High School’s Big Orange Classic.

The Lions kicked off the tournament on Thursday, Dec. 28 with a 75-40 win over Escambia County.

Briarwood started strong from the field early, outscoring the Blue Devils 15-10 in the opening eight minutes as Drew Mears, Thomas London and Garrett Witherington each scored four points apiece.

The Lions then took over in the second quarter thanks to 15 points from Mears and 21 as a team to lead 36-24 at halftime.

Mears kept his hot hand going in the third quarter and added another 15 points. That powered Briarwood to 22 third-quarter points and extended the lead to 28.

The Lions kept their foot on the gas in the final eight minutes of play as they outscored Escambia County 17-6.

Eli Stubbs scored all seven of his points in the fourth quarter to cap off the 35-point win for Briarwood to advance to the semifinals.

Mears dropped 36 points in the victory, and Witherington also had a double-digit scoring night with 10 points. In addition, London had nine points and Caleb Keller scored seven.

In the semifinals, the Lions led Central-Tuscaloosa through three quarters of play, but they fell just short in the fourth quarter to lose 59-51.

Despite the loss, Mears had 22 points, Witherington scored nine and Stubbs had eight points.

Briarwood finished the tournament strong in the third-place game on Saturday, Dec. 30 by cruising to victory over Andalusia.

The Lions opened the game with a 21-8 run in the first quarter as Mears and Keller each hit a pair of three-pointers to set the tone early from behind the arc.

While Mears and Keller led the way for Briarwood’s six first-quarter scorers, it was Stubbs who took over in the second quarter.

He hit a trio of three-pointers to score 13 of the Lions’ 24 points in the period and gave his team a 45-22 lead at the break.

Briarwood scored 24 points again in the third quarter as Stubbs and Mears came out of the locker room and scored eight points apiece.

That let the Lions see out the victory in a quiet fourth quarter and win 77-41 to take third place.

Stubbs had a game-high 25 points and Mears posted another strong showing with 19 points. Josh Thompson also earned double-figures with 12 points, Keller scored eight points and Witherington had six in the win.